André Lhote 1885-1962
N05073 Study for 'Hommage à Watteau' (Homage to Watteau) 1918
Inscribed 'A. LHOTE.' b.r.
Oil on canvas mounted on plywood, 13 1/8 x 10 1/4 (33 x 26)
Bequeathed by Frank Hindley Smith 1940
Prov: With Galerie Druet, Paris (purchased from the artist); [?through Mansard Gallery, London]; Frank Hindley Smith, Southport
Exh: [?French Art 1914-19, Mansard Gallery, London, August-September 1919 (130) as 'Sketch for "Homage to Watteau"']
The artist stated of this work (in a letter to W.J. Strachan of 10 July 1952): 'It is one of the sketches for "Homage to Watteau", a picture painted in 1918, measuring 1.20m x 0.9m, formerly collection Dorival ... The painting is at present in my possession. Some interesting sketches were made for it, that of the Tate Gallery is the least abstract, the others are more simplified. My intention was in the final picture to divide the canvas into two parts on the diagonal, that with the harlequin treated as flat
and the other modelled, while preserving, of course, the unity of the composition.
'The figure in the hat, leaning on the one who holds the mask, has disappeared.'
Another, more finished oil sketch showing a slightly later stage and measuring 81 x 66cm is reproduced in colour in Colour, XI, December 1919, p.90 as 'Homage to Watteau'. The composition is very much the same, though more stylised and monumental; the most conspicuous change is that the harlequin's costume has a very pronounced diamond-shaped pattern of alternating greens and browns. It is not clear whether this was the picture exhibited at the Mansard Gallery in August 1919 as 'Sketch for "Homage to Watteau"'; it could well have been shown as no.121, 'Homage to Watteau', with the Tate's picture as no.130, the sketch. A watercolour in the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (Girardin collection) shows a still later stage: the figure on the right has been omitted and the composition is more stylized and rhythmical.
The theme of the 'commedia dell'arte' is particularly associated with Watteau.
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.434-5, reproduced p.434